Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

A bison roams in Wood Buffalo National Park in this undated photo.

Rob Belanger/The Canadian Press

Canada’s wood bison, who live in northern Alberta near the proposed site of Teck Resources Ltd.’s Frontier oil sands project, face “imminent threats” to their recovery, a report from the country’s environment department said.

A one-page summary released late on Wednesday said Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has concluded that “immediate intervention is required to allow for recovery.”

The summary does not mention Frontier, which would operate for 40 years starting in 2026. But it said the Ronald Lake herd is at risk of contracting disease in the Wood Buffalo National Park and of losing range to “proposed industrial activities.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Wilkinson must decide by the end of February whether to approve $20.6-billion Frontier. He could also delay.

In a statement, Mr. Wilkinson said he takes Indigenous concerns about the bison “very seriously.” He said Ottawa is working with Alberta to further protect the herds.

“Action to protect the bison is required regardless of the Teck Frontier project. The decision regarding the Frontier oil sands mine is a separate decision.”

If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government says yes to Frontier, it would jeopardize his promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Saying no could infuriate Alberta, which is already angry over a perceived federal bias against the energy industry.

Canada has listed the wood bison, North America’s largest land mammal, as threatened since 2003. Nine of 12 free-ranging herds are disease-free, and a federal strategy aims to help the population recover.

Two herds in northeastern Alberta face imminent threats, the report said.

Frontier would encompass part of the Ronald Lake herd’s range. Development could cause the bison to move into the park, putting it in contact with herds carrying bovine tuberculosis or brucellosis, according to a report last year commissioned by the federal government and Alberta Energy Regulator.

Story continues below advertisement

Their continued use by Indigenous peoples depends on remaining disease-free.

It is unlikely that Ottawa could impose conditions on Frontier to protect the bison, said Carolyn Campbell, conservation specialist at Alberta Wilderness Association.

“We don’t have confidence that putting a big open-pit mine smack dab in the middle of a bison herd could be mitigated.”

If Frontier proceeds, Teck will build barriers to keep the herd from Frontier operations, reclaim land for habitat, and maintain Indigenous access, spokesman Chris Stannell said.

Chief executive Don Lindsay said on Wednesday that the company needs a pipeline to be built, a partner, and favourable oil prices before deciding to proceed with Frontier.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies